The rumor that we reported before Christmas was well founded. Two prominent members of the Lacoste family, Philippe Lacoste and his sister Sophie, have taken the control of Fusalp, the French sports apparel brand that became the leader in the European skiwear market in the 1970s. They have appointed Alexandre Fauvet, who spent 15 years at La Chemise Lacoste, as chief executive of the company, and they plan to hire new managers to implement the business plan outlined in the last issue of SGI Europe.
Philippe and Sophie Lacoste will own 77.6 percent of the shares in Fusalp. Fauvet will have a stake of 8 percent. A French investment company that had acquired a 12.4 percent interest in June and a private investor who had a two percent stake will keep their shares for the foreseeable future. Joël Gleyze, the 62-year-old veteran of Fusalp who bought out the company thirty years ago and owned 98 percent of its shares until last June, will cash out completely and retire gradually as chief executive over the next 12 months. The financial conditions of the takeover are being kept confidential.
Philippe Lacoste, who is now 46 years old, worked at Lacoste for many years under his uncle Bernard Lacoste and under his father Michel Lacoste, who succeeded the late Bernard as non-executive chairman between 2005 and 2012. Bernard and Michel were both sons of Réné Lacoste, the legendary French tennis player. Michel Lacoste was replaced in the role of non-executive chairperson by his daughter Sophie, who is now 37 years old. She made a bid to take over Lacoste with other members of the Lacoste family, but at the end of 2012, the venerable French brand fell into the lap of Maus Frères, the big Swiss corporation that also owns Aigle, Gant, Athleticum and the Manor Group.
Philippe and Sophie Lacoste plan to remain actively involved in the development of Fusalp, and they are not envisaging any new strategic investments for a while. As for Alexandre Fauvet, who is 41 years old, he is the son of Jean-Claude Fauvet, a former top manager of Lacoste. He worked closely with Michel Lacoste as an executive director of Lacoste until his retirement in 2008.
With orders for the current autumn/winter season up by 20 percent from a year ago, Fusalp expects to make an operating profit on sales of around €9 million for the financial year ending next May 31. In an interview, Philippe Lacoste said that he wants Fusalp to grow at a double-digit rate through the diversification of the product line and new investments in merchandising, sponsorships and other forms of communication, while maintaining the company's profitability before amortizations. Fusalp will make greater use of digital communication and organize events in ski resorts. It will also appoint a merchandising manager, providing more service to retail clients.
As reported, Fusalp is bringing out a new casual outdoor line to complement its more technical collections. As it did at Lacoste, the new management plans to make use of Fusalp's strong heritage to develop fresh and contemporary versions of the brand's former collections for the autumn/winter 2015/16 season, delving into its archives. Philippe Lacoste stressed that he doesn't want them to be simple “vintage” items.